Home Life & Style Gardeners warned over cutting trees in garden or neighbours will ‘call police’

Gardeners warned over cutting trees in garden or neighbours will ‘call police’


Gardeners are being warned they could be shopped to police by their neighbours over a little-known rule which governs cutting trees in your garden.

Trees are of course a vitally important part of most gardens. They look lovely, they often create privacy, they provide a home for birds and animals like squirrels and turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, performing an essential role in the environment.

But because they can grow for decades or even centuries on end, trees can cause problems over time if not carefully managed, with roots creeping into house foundations or branches snapping and falling into roads.

And one problem can be between neighbours with trees on boundaries. Gardeners will probably know that it’s totally legal to cut or prune a tree which is overhanging your garden, even if the tree is planted next door, as long as you’re stood within your garden to do it.

But what many don’t realise is, there’s a little known law which says you must offer any tree cuttings you make back to your neighbour after cutting – don’t just chuck them in the bin or chip them. 

It’s usually good practice to inform your neighbour that you intend to perform tree surgery on overhanging branches even if you don’t need permission, but legally you must offer the branches to your neighbour afterwards either way.

As Kirklees Council outlines: “If a tree or hedge is unprotected, you can prune branches that overhang your land and the roots growing beneath your land.

“You do not need the owner’s permission, but you must not trespass onto their land.

“You must offer to return the cut branch wood and any fruit which is attached or has fallen onto your land.”

This is backed by the Royal Horticultural Society which adds: “Your actions are classed as ‘abating a nuisance’ which does not require permission. Only in situations where you need access to their land to undertake the work would permission be required. “Once branches are cut off they should be offered back to the tree owner. If the owner doesn’t want them then you will be responsible for disposing of the prunings; you can’t simply throw them over the boundary into your neighbour’s garden.”

If you take away tree branches, you could be charged with theft.

The Theft Act makes it a criminal offence to pick fruit, flowers or even branches from a tree that is not on your property. While homeowners will not have to worry about measures being taken to this extreme, but if you cut down a neighbour’s branches or take fruit/flowers from their trees, they are legally entitled to ask you to return them or they are well within their rights to call the police.

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